Wednesday, July 21, 2010

An Overzealous Immigration Detention System

The private prison industry has long been a beneficiary of our country's increased emphasis on immigration detention under Bush/Cheney.  Nearly 98% of prisons constructed for the federal government over the past decade have been private; it makes sense because we needed a place to put the extra 30,000 immigrants we now incarcerate under the strict new measures his administration enforced (a 1,000 PERCENT increase over what was held under Clinton).  What makes all that even more revolting is the fact that Cheney owns a lot of stock in the Vanguard group, which has a lot of its investments tied up in the GEO group.  But back to my point; our country is ridiculously overzealous when it comes to incarcerating immigrants, most of whom haven't committed any crime other than being in this country illegally.  The title link goes to a horrifying story of the ordeal a US citizen was put through at the hands of gung-ho ICE agents.  If our government maybe wasn't quite so concerned with locking up ever-increasing numbers of immigrants all so Cheney can make a few extra bucks on his way out, this wouldn't happen to our own citizens.


  1. Anonymous22 July, 2010

    Lets see in your comments you mention "incarcerating immigrants, most of who haven't committed any crime other then being in this country illegally." That would be a crime reguardless of type of crime, and criminals are put in jail in this country. I think we should deport every illegal.

  2. What about the fact that many immigrants are in the system longer than the maximum six-month penalty that can be imposed for the violation? This is the prevailing law on immigration violation; is it right to incarcerate immigrants for longer than six months for a first offense?

    How do you feel about the billions of dollars the federal government spends to incarcerate all these immigrants? Immigration detention beds can cost twice as much as other prison beds, up to $120 per immigrant, per day; that really adds up when you've got 30,000+ immigrants detained. Can you recognize any difference in our immigration system now than say 10 years ago when we only locked up 1 tenth of the amount of people we do now? We pay these private companies literally billions of dollars every year to incarcerate these people - is that a judicious way to spend our tax dollars?

    My point overall though is that an immigration violation is not a violent crime, and it doesn't really victimize anyone. Meanwhile our country incarcerates nearly 2.5 million people every day, a million more than China, which has 4 times our population. We far outpace any other country in the world in incarceration, and at least half of who we lock up are in there for nonviolent offenses, mostly drug and immigration violations. I think prison should be reserved for violent criminals, people we feel need to be removed from society because they can't function productively in it. The vast majority of immigrants in this country work very hard at extremely low-paying jobs, jobs that many Americans scoff at, but frankly, we couldn't live without. Maintenance men, dishwashers, fruit pickers, whatever. They aren't violent and often aren't even a drain on our society. We're supposed to live in the land of the free, but we want to incarcerate everyone we disagree with, and, frankly. it's bankrupting us. We spend $70 billion every year on incarcerating people, more than 1 in every 100 adults in this country is currently in prison or jail, and all I'm suggesting is that maybe, just maybe, we don't need to be locking up even more people.

  3. Anonymous23 July, 2010

    I agree, deport them, don't lock them up.